Wednesday, April 27, 2016

I Bet Your Afternoon Didn't Include Cannons

Today we went to the library--soon they'll let us take out more than 5 books at once and we won't have to go every few days--and lo and behold, the tiny, volunteer "museum" across the street from the library had a big OPEN sign flapping from the railing.  It's been stubbornly CLOSED every time we passed and we were skeptical about its real existence.

I say "museum" because it's really only about six display cases in an old Methodist Episcopal Church.  (And here I thought those were different denominations, but that's what it says, right on the cornerstone where it also says 1904.  Maybe they shared?)  Anyway I felt bad for them because it smelled like damp carpet and put five dollars in the donation box, and so the volunteer who was cataloging things must have wanted us to get our money's worth.  She kept following us around explaining what was in the display cases and telling us about local old-timey citizens, including a lady who wore her wedding dress (navy blue) on her 50th anniversary, and a local baseball player who was apparently famous who rejoiced in the name (I kid you not) of Harm Killibrew.

(Short for Harmon, evidently, but still, gosh.  Harm Killibrew.  I don't care if he was a baseball player and colorful.  Who calls their kid Harm Killibrew?  Why not name your kid Evil McMurderpants while you're at it?)

The church/museum does have a couple of lovely stained glass windows, and display cases of variously interesting things.  The kids' favorites were:

1. The treadle sewing machine they were allowed to move the foot piece on
2. An old blinky train signal they were allowed to turn on and off
3. A miniature village that took some woman 8 years to put together (with geese the size of poppy seeds, a train the size of a cigar, and a teeny tiny lady hanging teeny tiny wash out on the line)

I liked the collection of ladies' hats and fancy compacts, and the mysterious thing that turned out to be a rug beater.

And, of course, we all liked the cannon.

It is, the museum volunteer explained, a Confederate cannon.  I must have had a "What's it doing in Idaho" sort of look on my face, because she explained that apparently any city in America could buy one off the federal government back in the 1930s for $500, and the city of Payette felt like a a Civil War cannon was exactly what their park needed to add class and patriotism.  So it was shipped to Payette on a train and sat out in the park until 2008 when someone realized it was a rare Confederate cannon, made in highly sketchy circumstances (forged partway one place, moved, and finished in another; I'm surprised it didn't blow up in the gunner's face) and moved it inside.  Which was lucky, because then thieves stole the replica they replaced it with.

At this point Bud laid down on the floor and told me he was "too thirsty to keep looking at historical things" and we had to go home.

Then the kids built a pirate ship in the back yard out of firewood and deck chairs while I read three chapters of The Hardy Boys: The Tower Treasure to them aloud, but it lacked the savor of the treadle sewing machine and the sketchy cannon, somehow.  Although I did have an interesting time trying to explain to them what a "roadster" was.



Monday, April 18, 2016

Weekend Shenanigans

I don't have as many pictures as I probably should, but here, the ones I do have.

We went to the little local museum here, the Four Rivers Cultural Center, which has a nice set of displays/dioramas on the region's various cultures (there were the Paiute tribes, the miners/farmers/cowboys both of European and Hispanic descent, the Basque sheepherders, and the Americans of Japanese descent who came here during WWII to work in the onion fields and fruit orchards, as a way of proving to the government they weren't spies--more of this anon).

Out front they have an armed services memorial with an eagle on top.  The kids thought it was cool and did their own eagle impression.  (Note: you are supposed to walk around up close to it, we weren't being disrespectful.)  (Second note: Bud is hiding to the left.)

Slightly more successful eagles.  Bud wants it known that he was hiding "like an Indian".
 Inside the center we watched a brief video that set up the exhibits we were about to see, in case we were too lazy to read the plaques, I guess.  The kids were most impressed with the parts of the dioramas that showed various houses--the Paiute wigwam, the Basque sheepherder's tent (with his cute little camp stove--I remember REALLY wanting a sheepherder's wagon when I was little), and the reproduction tarpaper shack from the Japanese internment camp, which you could walk around in.

You could also walk through this pipe from the Owyhee Dam, which I guess, at the time it was built, was the tallest dam in the world.

 The internment camp exhibit was very well done, with a lot of donations from families that still live in the area and narration from a lady who was four or five years old when her family went to the camp.  The kids were pretty horrified by the injustice of it all, although the tiny stove in the interment camp shack had the same charm for them as the tiny stove in the sheepherder's wagon.  We are all about tiny stoves, apparently.

Sitting on a bench in the Japanese garden, trying to look like we're thinking deep and solemn thoughts.
The center has a little Japanese garden out back, which we walked through before the exhibits--because we are wiggly people--and also after the exhibits, because we felt the need to show some love to Japanese Americans at that point.  Also there was a koi pond and we had to tell the fish hello and goodbye.

Oh, and I got fed up and cut my hair.
Myself.  Ever since the great poodle-ear incident of 2013 I don't do salons.  Saves money.  Makes me less liable to swear at stylists.
Other highlights of the weekend include Sasquatch earnestly informing me that licking is better than washing faces, and Bud whispering in my ear in church "I think I'm starting to be in love with someone" about a girl in the row behind us (sixth grader, glamorous).

We have also been fighting high blood sugars with Bud for about the last 24 hours, I think because another growth spurt is hitting us like a Mack truck.  It's super annoying, but we're going to see the endocrinologist on Wednesday (on Bud's birthday--luckily he thinks this is fine because we can eat at Buffalo Wild Wings afterward).  Maybe pray that we get things sorted?



Wednesday, April 13, 2016

"I Just REALLY Hate Brushing My Hair, Mom!"

And I mean, to be fair, the kid has a lot of hair now that the whole celiac thing is under control.  It WAS hard to brush.  There were several strata of hair to get the brush or comb through.  This morning I was giving her brothers haircuts, and Eldest decided she Had Had Enough.

In spite of the super-serious face, the short hair was her idea.  I had told her "you can have short hair if you want" and, well, she wanted.

Side view, looking artistically at the couch.

See, there's the real feeling about it.  ("Do you think they'll know it's me?" she said.)

So, three haircuts were given today.  While we are at it I'm kinda resentful of my own hair right now, but that's a bad time to start whacking away.  Although, I have given up on having professionals cut my hair.  None of them can manage to do anything to but give me faux-poodle ears, or poofy triangle-head.  So I cut my own hair, and while I will not take any style awards, I do think I look decent.

Yesterday it rained.  All we did was stay home and check the paleolithic shelter the kids built in the backyard (from their red wagon, some firewood logs, and some old boards Phil had) to see if it kept the rain out (no).

But the day before yesterday was 80F and gorgeous, so that day we went to the park.  Here is an action shot of Bud (insulin pump tucked securely inside his waistband, a lesson we learned the hard way.

They really should make Action Insulin Pumps for people who hardly ever have two feet on the ground at once.

Last night I had a crazy bout of insomnia, which I mostly get when there's a full moon.  Last night wasn't a full moon, so I'm not sure what was up--I just woke up about 1am and stayed awake, rather uselessly trying to get my brain to stop thinking about stuff like whether we have parsley left and if I should make parsley potatoes.  So today, apart from haircuts, I'm not doing anything spectacular.  IN fact, it's 9:30am and I may go take a nap while the kids watch cartoons.



Thursday, April 7, 2016

Life in the Banana Belt

....not really.  Not for people who are used to real, actual heat.  But for me, it's weird for it to be 80 degrees in April.  Nigh-on witchcraft, that.

So I weeded the flower beds today, which, because it's been so warm, was a big endeavor--the weeds had gotten giant overnight.  Now my fingertips hurt.

I do find that working in the garden is nice, in a contemplative kind of way.  You can let your mind wander and think about all kinds of things, until it's sharply brought back to the present when you find a tiny, white, picked-clean bird skull hidden among the flowering ground cover.

(I don't know what happened to the rest of the bird.)

Anyway, tomorrow we're going to plant the vegetable garden, so I'm trying to let my fingertips recover a bit.  I will just report Sasquatch's theory of bugs:

1) Mayflies are really called "Stangflies".
2) You can tell a daddy centipede because it's smaller than a kid centipede.
3) All worms like being underneath rocks.  They like it best if you squish the rock down hard, so they can be "cozy in their home".
4) You can tell a mayfly from a stangfly because mayflies have 44 feet, and stangflies have 63 feet.
5) It's the mother mosquitoes that drink blood.  And they don't drink the blood of other mothers.  Therefore, in a stunning matriarchal twist, I am immune but not my children.  I probably set this up with the mosquito mothers in advance.  Bwaha, ha ha ha ha, etc.



Wednesday, April 6, 2016

French Cooking

I got inspired to pull out my copy of The Art of French Cooking because I wanted to make chicken, and I was bored with the ways I've been making chicken.  It is more or less this recipe, although I will note the cookbook lists mushrooms as an *option* (one of about six).

The thing about French Cooking is it is like an encyclopedia; it leads you from recipe to recipe, because it cheerfully will tell you to put your chicken and mushrooms ("Supremes de Volaille aux Champignons") with asparagus tips au beurre and a chicken-broth/onion risotto.  This makes you find the recipe for asparagus tips and then the one for the risotto, and it all ends with you going to Walmart for necessary, planned purchases (underpants for everyone in the entire house, literally) and unnecessary, but kind of needed anyway, purchases (heavy cream and asparagus).

The other nice thing about French Cooking is that it was written in the 60s.  This means that while it wants you to have fresh mushrooms and herbs and things on hand, it acknowledges that maybe you won't, and tells you how to handle yourself if you're stuck with canned mushrooms, dried herbs, and (gasp!) canned fish.  In fact, the fish gratinee, which calls for canned salmon, is still one of my very favoritest fish recipes.  The white wine elevates it.  (Of course if you're gluten free, you will not use 3 TB of regular flour that the recipe calls for, you'll either use GF cornstarch or 3 TB of GF all-purpose flour.)

Meanwhile my house has been consumed, lately, by an attack of the naughties.  It struck us in Walmart, in the underpants aisle, when Sasquatch did not want to choose which kind of underpants to get.  He wanted all of them, and none of them.  "These are the stupid ones!" he said, waving a hand at the entire Walmart inventory of boys' clothes.  (This is a kid who, of his own volition, insists on wearing a white button-down shirt to Sunday school every week.  For the kindergarten class.  And who needs his dinner plate to be masculine.)  We might STILL be in the underpants aisle debating the relative merits of the Avengers vs. Spiderman had I not grabbed a package of plain, gray underpants, waved them in his face, and had the presence of mind to say "Just like Daddy's!"  That, as they say, was gold, Jerry.

The other two were easier to please, thank goodness, because I could feel myself spiraling down into that crazy place where you're actually arguing with your five-year-old, as though logic is going to make a dent in his belief that underwear with characters on it is a stupid for him.  Not for his brother or sister or random kids on the street.  But for Sasquatch, it's A Stupid.  We can't have A Stupid.  We might die.

Then on the way out he crashed into a display of cake mixes and collapsed into a weepy pile of rage until we got home.  I kinda think we all need naps, and maybe extra butter on our asparagus tips.



Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Just When You Think You've Dodged That Bullet....

Cousin Avi: Now, this "Boris the Bullet-Dodger." What does he do?
Bullet-tooth Tony (confused): He...dodges bullets, Avi.

I have, in the past, felt pretty good about the fact that none of my kids cut their own hair.  Not that I think this makes me a super parent, or anything, just like Wow, at least that's one thing we haven't had to deal with, that's nice.

Then yesterday I found a hank of blond hair stuffed down in a certain person's laundry hamper, as though Mama would never find it there.  (Alas, foiled by the fact that Mama does the laundry once a week.  Curses.)

She had lopped off the bangs that were growing out.  They're now Darn Short.  I asked her if she wanted short hair ("Which is fine!" I said.  "You can have it!" I said.  "Just don't do it yourself!" I said.)  She was torn.  She kinda wanted short hair (less brushing) but she kinda wanted hair down to her waist, too.  She was disappointed to learn these are incompatible goals.

So, we'll see.  You might be seeing pictures shortly of Eldest with a pixie cut.  Because I'm not sure I can handle finding self-administered haircuts in random hidey-holes.



Monday, April 4, 2016

"Happiness" and Strawberries

I just got done reading an interesting book, Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project.  (I know this sounds kind of Oprah-ish, but bear with me.)  In the book, Rubin, who is a biographer living in New York, realizes one day that her life is passing her by.  She has a husband she loves, two little girls, a career she enjoys, and yet spends most of her days on autopilot.  So, she does what any good writer would do and sets about spending a year studying happiness and blogging about it.

Now, the book was mostly interesting to me because it made me think about the little things that make a difference in my own day.  These are not giant, expensive things, and they usually affect nobody but me--unless you count the people around me getting the benefit of me being in a better mood.  I realized, why don't I take the time to make sure that these things happen every day?  Here are some of the things I thought of--you'll see why this was a moment that had me smacking myself in the forehead:

1) Change the wallpaper on my phone to something I like to look at, with flowers.

2) Change my computer wallpaper ditto.

3) Tidy that one shelf on the bookshelf that always gets messy, that I sit directly in front of every morning while I drink my coffee, thinking about how much I hate that it's messy.

4) Put the boxes of toys that were standing out in the basement away into the kids' closets.

5) Get a handheld vacuum for the stairs and my car (this one did cost money; it was $49 and worth every penny--it's everything I dreamed it could be to not have to lug my upright vacuum up and down two sets of stairs).

6) Activate my "achievement button".  This is one that the Husband and I talked about, in reference to him liking to "level up" at things.  (This is one reason why, for example, that getting a business degree in his spare time is not crushing to him, but actually kind of fun.)  I realized I like to "level up", too, or at least to be able to wave a hand and say, "look at that! I did all that! I weeded the heck out of that flower bed!"  So housework, by its nature, doesn't automatically hit my "achievement button"--unless I decide to set it up that way.  (The weeds always grow back.)  But I can arrange my day so that I get at least one achievement per day.  For instance, make a list that has "fold laundry" on it, then fold the laundry and check off the list.  If you keep the list on Wunderlist on your phone, you can look back at the completed items and feel smug.

7) Tidy the closet.  My closet needed to be tidied.  And a good bunch of clothes needed to be taken to Salvation Army--I swear poorly-fitting blouses have babies, or something.  I whittled it down to the stuff I actually like and that actually fits, and also realized that I was getting by with several pairs of worn-out shoes.  A side benefit of cleaning out your closet: you realize that the reason you felt like you were wearing the same things all the time was that you were, in fact, wearing the same things all the time.

It also becomes obvious whether you really need a new item or not.  (Black heels.  The ones I had have the sole ripped clean off, and are older than Eldest.  Time to hop on Thredup and find a new pair.  Incidentally I also sold any not-worn-out name-brand clothes I had to Thredup--I'll report back how much they give me for them.  It probably won't be all that much, but hey, taking them all to Salvation Army would have got me zero dollars.)  I've been wanting a "capsule wardrobe" for a long time--having only clothes that I love and wearing them over and over and over again--and now I've basically got one.  It makes me happy to not feel vaguely like a bunch of worn out, poorly-fitting, stained, or otherwise unlovely clothes are mocking me and slipping off their hangers.

8) There are other things I do to try to up my cheerfulness factor, and some of them are a super spiritual (like keeping a prayer journal or reading Andrew Murray or meditating on Bible verses) and some of them are super silly and obvious (taking my vitamins, going outside to work in the garden, buying fruit, realizing the kids and I should leave the house at least four times a week, admitting I love flowers), but I think most helpful is the simple idea that it's okay, nay, advisable, to analyze your day and put in the things that make you cheerful, and take out the things that make you grumpy and unreasonable.  I guess this idea had struck me, previously, as frivolous, but it's really true that Mom's attitude affects the attitude of the whole household, so it behooves me to work on making it easier for me to be cheerful.

See, one big trigger for me having a day of being Doomy (which makes me want to just sit on the couch and not keep up with the house and homeschooling, which makes me feel worse, which makes me want to sit on the couch, and so on) is not getting enough sleep.  Which, you know, will continue to happen until Bud is old enough to reliably wake up during the night to do his own blood sugar checks, which won't be at least until he's 15 or 16.  So it's going to keep occurring, and I have a responsibility to combat the resulting Doom in as many ways as I can.  I think this is one of those things where God expects you to work with the light you've been given.

Now, the strawberries.

We went to the grocery store after church on Sunday because we were out of milk, and they had big giant boxes of strawberries for $3 each.  (Which makes it $1.50/pound, Mom, not $1, like I inaccurately texted you when we were still excited and gorging on strawberries after lunch.)  I can't quite get used to living in a place where fruit is literally grown right down the road, and you can just buy it with impunity.  It's wonderful, but odd.

Anyway, I encourage you to sit down and think about the teeny changes you could make that would make your day run better, and that would make you feel more cheerful.  Like I said, most of what I have implemented didn't cost any money. Most of us can clean, tidy, and take things to Salvation Army, or use the nice cups for morning coffee, or play some music.  (Amazon Prime Music has a bunch of free music, if you've got a Prime account.)  It's amazing what a difference just removing the little blah items and replacing them with happy items makes in your disposition.

And a bit annoying; if you're like me you think you should be able to be cheerful with ugly computer wallpaper and the crappy coffee cup that the acid-hauling guy gave the Husband as a "please use our company for all your acid-hauling needs" gift at a conference.  (And if that was the only coffee cup in the house, why, sure, you could learn to be content.  Or, you know, take it to Salvation Army, then wander to the front of the store and buy a pretty cup for 45 cents.)  But, when you think about it, it's just silly to make it harder for yourself to stay cheerful when very simple changes make it so much easier.  Life has enough challenges that we can't easily remove--chronic illness, limitations in money, isolation, stress--that honestly, we should save our energy to deal with those and not act as though we're doing something noble by gimping around with the ugly cup, using up all the resilience we need to deal with real problems without yelling.

(Ugly cup is a metaphor.  If you love your ugly coffee cup and it's just the right size, keep it.  Ugly cup represents everything broken, ugly, or poorly-working that you're using just because it seems vaguely selfish to pull out the good one that you already own and use it on an ordinary Wednesday.  I give you permission to go ahead and USE it on the ordinary Wednesday.  And get rid of whatever your ugly cup is...even if it's not an actual ugly cup.)



P.S.  Seriously, I'm sitting here drinking out of an ugly cup right this very minute.  I don't even know why it's still here.  Maybe I can take off the company logo with nail polish remover?  It's chipping off anyway.  It would be an attractive cup if it didn't have the dumb logo.